The 2010 film, the Wolfman was made by Universal as a remake of their 1941 film The Wolf Man.
(Spoiler Alert – Skip down to last paragraph to avoid spoilers and read recommendation)
Benicio del Toro stars as Lawrence Talbot. Lawrence left his home in England after the death of his mother under mysterious circumstances. His father Sir John Talbot (played by Anthony Hopkins) still lives at the ancestral home with his other son Ben and Ben’s fiancée Gwen Conliffe (played by Emily Blunt). Lawrence is contacted by Gwen and asked to return home after Ben disappears.
When Lawrence arrives, he discovers that Ben’s body has been discovered horribly mutilated as if by some enormous predator. Rumors in the village point to some involvement by a gypsy camp nearby. Lawrence promises Gwen that he will investigate and find Ben’s killer.
Lawrence goes to the village and the locals tell him that the grisly killing is like one that occurred twenty-five years ago and was attributed by the locals to a werewolf. Other villagers are convinced that a trained bear that the gypsies keep is responsible. Lawrence determines to go to the gypsy camp to investigate but his father warns him that the full moon is that night and he should stay home.
Lawrence goes to the camp and the wolf-like creature goes on a spree killing and maiming gypsies and villagers alike. Lawrence chases after the creature with a rifle but eventually the creature attacks him and tears his neck severely. A gypsy woman named Maleva stitches up his wound while another tells her to let him die because he is now destined to become a werewolf too.
Lawrence is sent home and makes a miraculous recovery from his wounds. During his convalescence Inspector Francis Aberline of Scotland Yard (played by Hugo Weaving) interviews Lawrence and hints that based on Lawrence’s childhood bout with mental illness (his father had had him committed to an asylum for a year) that perhaps he is a suspect in the horrific attacks.
And in the village, news that Lawrence’s wounds had healed unnaturally well, convinced the people that he was about to become a werewolf himself at the next full moon. When they come to drag Lawrence away by force, Sir John shows up with a shot gun and forces them off the estate.
But sure enough the next night is the full moon and Lawrence makes the metamorphosis into a wolf man and goes on a horrendous rampage killing and tearing to pieces the villagers who have come out to catch and kill him. Aberline is witness to some of the killings and the next morning when Lawrence wakes up outside the manor house soaked in blood, the inspector and the local police capture Lawrence and bring him to the same insane asylum he was committed to as a child.
There he is treated with shock treatments using ice water and electricity. At the end of a month Sir John visits him and tells him his own story. Twenty-five years earlier Sir John was bitten by a werewolf and became such a creature. He was able to avoid the monthly murdering by having his servant Singh lock him up each full moon in a reinforced cell.
He admits to the murder of both his wife and his son Ben. And gives Lawrence a straight razor in case he cannot face the murderous life he is faced with and would prefer suicide. That night is the full moon and Lawrence once again transforms into a beast, breaks out of the asylum and goes on another killing spree through London. In the morning he goes to the home of Gwen and tells her of what he knows of Ben’s murder and his father’s guilt. He plans to kill his father and then himself to end the curse. Gwen tries to dissuade him from suicide but he heads home.
That night Lawrence confronts his father in their home and the two werewolves battle. During the fight the manor house catches fire. At first Sir John has the best of the fight but finally Lawrence heaves his foe into the fire which weakens him enough to allow his son to decapitate him.
Following this battle both Gwen and Inspector Aberline confront the surviving beast. Aberline is wounded by Lawrence but is spared when the wolf chases after Gwen into the night. When he finally catches her and pins her to the ground, she is able to awaken his humanity and he spares her. And while he is distracted by the approaching villagers Gwen shoots him with a pistol. Lawrence returns to human form and before he dies, he thanks Gwen for releasing him from his curse. Inspector Aberline witnesses Lawrence’s death and it’s obvious that he knows his own fate is sealed when next the moon is full.
Alright, here’s my take. When you go to a movie called the “The Wolfman” you’re not going to get Shakespeare. In fact, you’re not even going to get drama. You’re going to get a fairy tale. And that’s exactly what you get here. What you want is good special effects, lots of blood and gore and some good guys to pity and some bad guys to hiss at. It would be nice if the script isn’t too silly and the actors not completely inept. And in those particulars, I think this picture is above par for the genre. After all, Anthony Hopkins can make even nonsense sound interesting. And the rest of the cast do their best. As a remake of the 1941 film, I think this movie is quite close. Benicio del Toro approaches the part in a similar vein to how Lon Chaney Jr. did. Anthony Hopkins and Claude Rains are both distinguished English actors that project intelligence into their characters. And the atmosphere of the film hits all the right notes. This movie lost money so it’s been declared a bomb. I disagree. It’s a highly successful fairy tale. Of course, you have to like fairy tales to enjoy it. I recommend this to fans of horror movies.